SlowFishDinnerDid you know October is Slow Fish Month? I, woefully, did not, until last night. Slow Fish is a campaign launched by Slow Food Canada, as a way of connecting Canadians with their marine meals. In a maritime province like Nova Scotia, it’s pretty important to our food resources to understand where and how our seafood is harvested–yet East Coasters are slow to embrace anything other than the standard species that have been the industry bread and butter. Check out just about any supermarket fish counter and you’ll see the same denizens of the deep over and over: haddock, salmon, lobster. Apparently, the hard lessons learned by the demise of the cod fishery have not influenced the industry in significant ways–why aren’t we looking at lesser known catches?
Slow Fish hosted a seminar in Halifax Wednesday to talk about these things, and the day culminated in a Slow Fish dinner at Elements on Hollis.
I did not have the luxury of time to attend the seminar, but I wasn’t going to pass up an opportunity to eat five courses featuring alternate catches, prepared by Elements chef Steve Galvin. Chef Galvin is one of those laid back, easy-going guys whose demeanour belies exceptional talent honed by experience in some of Canada’s best known and respected kitchens (and, a stint in Rome as the Canadian Embassy’s Executive Chef).
After a reception featuring a raw oyster bar and local wines, we’re on to the first course. Sea perch, with a very similar taste and texture to haddock, is delicately poached in consomme. Well seasoned, the consomme leaves a finishing brandy warmth in the throat.
Cusk sausage is served on tomato and fennel; again, another mild flavoured fish brought to life with the accompanying components. And the swordfish follows, meaty and toothsome. Main course is harpoon caught halibut, beautifully cooked. For dessert, apple cake is topped with finely diced sweetfish (Ayu), which I’ve never had before. Popular in Asia, the sweetfish has a very delicate, sweet taste and texture somewhat gelatinous.
Overall, the meal has been a nice showcase for these under-utilized fish, demonstrating just how good they can be–if we just give them a chance.

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